Sunday, 15th November Communion Service

WELCOME

HYMN From the breaking of the dawn (Gettys)

From the breaking of the dawn
To the setting of the sun,
I will stand on every promise of Your word.
Words of power, strong to save,
That will never pass away,
I will stand on every promise of Your word.
For Your covenant is sure,
And on this I am secure,
I can stand on every promise of Your word.

When I stumble and I sin,
Condemnation pressing in,
I will stand on every promise of Your word.
You are faithful to forgive,
That in freedom I might live,
So I stand on every promise of Your word.


Guilt to innocence restored:
You remember sins no more!
So I’ll stand on every promise of Your word.

When I’m faced with anguished choice,
I will listen for Your voice,
And I’ll stand on every promise of Your word.


Through this dark and troubled land
You will guide me with your hand
As I stand on every promise of Your word.
And you’ve promised to complete
Every work begun in me,
So I’ll stand on every promise of Your word.

Hope that lifts me from despair,
Love that casts out every fear,
As I stand on every promise of Your word.
Not forsaken, not alone,
For the Comforter has come,
And I stand on every promise of Your word.
Grace sufficient, grace for me,
Grace for all who will believe,
We will stand on every promise of Your word.

PRAYER

READING – Genesis 30:25 – 31:16, 54,55

25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26 Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”

27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favour in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28 He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”

29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30 The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”

31 “What shall I give you?” he asked.

“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-coloured lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-coloured, will be considered stolen.”

34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-coloured lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons.

36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40 Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-coloured animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. 41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

31 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2 And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.

3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

4 So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. 5 He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength,

7 yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. 8 If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young. 9 So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.

10 “In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. 11 The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12 And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’”

14 Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? 15 Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. 16 Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”…

Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. 54 He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there.

55 Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.

SERMON – Jacob’s Flight

In verses 25-43 After the account of the birth of the sons, we have the first mention of Jacob’s departure from Haran. Laban, seeking the Lord’s blessing on behalf of Jacob, attempted to settle his account for the work Jacob had done for him over the years. So Laban asked Jacob to name his wages. Jacob struck a bargain with Laban that resulted in great blessing and wealth for Jacob.

The blessing did not come from Laban; rather, it was a gift from God (cf. 14:21). What Jacob took, instead, was the right to stay on and shepherd Laban’s flocks and to keep part of the herd that he raised. After the deal was struck, Jacob was to keep all the speckled or spotted goats and all the black sheep. From this he would build his own herds.

We need to read this passage as an example of the Lord’s promise in ch. 28 to be with Jacob during his sojourn in the East. Jacob’s clever use of the peeled poplar branches was not so much intended to demonstrate his resourcefulness as it was to further the theme of God’s continued faithfulness to his word. The clue to the meaning of the passage is in v. 43, where a summary of the whole narrative is given. The summary recalls quite clearly God’s blessing of both Abraham (12:16) and Isaac (26:14); and so it puts the events of this chapter within the larger context of the themes developed throughout the book, namely, God’s promise of blessing and his faithfulness to that promise. Jacob’s wise dealings with Laban then are an example of the way God caused him to prosper during this sojourn. Looking back he told his wives that it was God who had taken Laban’s herds and given them to him (31:9).

At the start of Chapter 31, [just as Isaac’s wealth had made the Philistines jealous (26:14)], so Jacob learned that Laban was now angry and jealous of his wealth.

At this time the Lord also told Jacob to return to the land of his fathers. We are again reminded of the Lord’s promise to be “with” (28:15) Jacob on his journey; and so the direction of Jacob’s life again points toward Bethel, the place of the original promise.

This seems to be the middle point of the narrative and life of Jacob. He was on his way back to Bethel. Later on (32:10), when Jacob looked back at this point, he repeated the Lord’s words of comfort and promise. However, instead of the promise “I will be with you,” Jacob recalled God’s words as “I will make you prosper” (32:10).

In Verses 4-13 Jacob’s words of explanation repeat the important events of the previous chapter. Though the events of ch. 30 give the appearance that Jacob was getting the best of Laban, from another perspective Jacob’s actions are to be understood as the Lord’s enabling him to be repaid for Laban’s mistreatment. The events were all part of the outworking of God’s plan that began with Jacob’s vow at Bethel and the Lord’s promise to be with him. Now even Laban’s change of attitude toward Jacob and the jealousy of his sons are seen as part of the plan of God.

We discover in verses 14-21 Jacob’s wives were willing to leave their own family and go with him to the land of Canaan (cf. 24:58; Ruth 1:16). More important, they were ready to put their trust in God and seek his blessing. Despite the wives’ positive response to Jacob, an ominous note is sounded about Rachel’s stealing of Laban’s “household gods.” It is unclear whether Rachel’s actions are to be viewed favourably or reveal a weakness of character. There is a similarity and contrast between Rachel’s stealing her father’s “household gods” when fleeing from home with her husband and Jacob’s stealing his father’s blessing when fleeing from home to find a wife (ch. 27).

***************************************************

In both cases the younger stole what rightfully belonged to the elder.

As we see later (v. 32), Jacob did not know that Rachel had taken the gods. It is through Rachel’s resourcefulness alone that Laban’s prized possessions were successfully taken. In addition, Rachel’s secret action is matched by Jacob’s deception in departing from Laban secretly.

22-42 The dispute over the stolen household gods lets the writer restate his central theme, which is expressed in Jacob’s words to Laban in v. 42: If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.” Jacob’s wealth had not come through his association with Laban but through God’s gracious care during Jacob’s difficult sojourn.

43-55 The story concludes with an account of a covenant between Jacob and Laban. Just as Isaac parted ways with Abimelech by entering a covenant, so also Jacob and Laban parted ways with a covenant.

What are we to make of all this?

Of course we must see the gracious and kindly hand of God in looking after His servant Jacob and his large family. God continues to look after His beloved children.

God also makes all the arrangements that are necessary for His will to be carried out. He made Jacob’s wives willing to go with him – it seems they were even willing to put THEIR trust in Jacob’s God.

But the most important thing in the passage – and one that is very relevant to us on this Communion Sunday, is that God is working out His Covenant promises. God has a long term plan – in the Old Testament, that plan was to send a Saviour to the world. And no-one and nothing would get in the way of that plan.

God has another plan which is outlined in the New Testament (or New COVENANT) and that is to send His Son Jesus Christ back into the world to JUDGE the world and to bring in new heavens and a new earth. That is a promise onto which we need to hold – every day of our lives (perhaps especially in the difficult days).

But that same Covenant God – the God of promises – also makes promises for us in our daily lives. Just as history was working inexorably to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and the world is heading for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus – so God is working out a plan in your life and mine. Our lives here on earth CPOUNT for something – and something BIG. We are the children of the King – children of the KING of kings, and God is working out His mighty plans in history through us.

COMMUNION HYMN The power of the Cross

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us,
Took the blame, bore the wrath:
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face
Bearing the awesome weight of sin;
Every bitter thought,
Every evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees,
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
‘Finished!’ the victory cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death,
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the power of the cross:
Son of God, slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

COMMUNION

PRAYER

Hymn I hear Thy welcome voice

1 I hear thy welcome voice

That calls me, Lord, to thee,

For cleansing in thy precious blood

That flowed on calvary.

I am coming, Lord,

Coming now to thee:

Wash me, cleanse me, by the blood

That flowed on calvary.

2 Though coming weak and vile,

Thou dost my strength assure;

Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse,

Till spotless all and pure.

Chorus

3 ‘Tis Jesus calls me on

To perfect faith and love,

To perfect hope, and peace, and trust,

For earth and heaven above.

Chorus

4 ‘Tis Jesus who confirms

The blessèd work within,

By adding grace to welcomed grace,

Where reigned the power of sin.

Chorus

5 And he the witness gives

To loyal hearts and free,

That every promise is fulfilled,

If faith but brings the plea

Chorus

6 All hail, atoning blood!

All hail, redeeming grace!

All hail, the gift of Christ our Lord,

Our strength and righteousness!

Chorus

Benediction

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